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Virtual Gift Show Spring 2023 - Gift

The Golden Spruce
A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed
By (author): John Vaillant
John Vaillant


Vintage Canada



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Jan 03, 2006
$23.00 CAD


7.94in x 5.17 x 0.74 in | 0.75 lb

Page Count:

296 pages
Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Vintage Canada
SCIENCE / Natural History
Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award - Non-fiction Book of the Year 2006, Nominated Governor General's Literary Award - Nonfiction 2005, Winner Kiriyama Prize for Nonfiction 2006, Nominated Pearson Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize 2005, Winner
The environmental true-crime story of a glorious natural wonder, the man who destroyed it, and the fascinating, troubling context in which this act took place. Featuring a new Afterword by the author.

“Absolutely spellbinding.” —The New York Times

On a winter night in 1997, a British Columbia timber scout named Grant Hadwin committed an act of shocking violence in the mythic Queen Charlotte Islands. His victim was legendary: a unique 300-year-old Sitka spruce tree, fifty metres tall and covered with luminous golden needles. In a bizarre environmental protest, Hadwin attacked the tree with a chainsaw. Two days later, it fell, horrifying an entire community. Not only was the golden spruce a scientific marvel and a tourist attraction, it was sacred to the Haida people and beloved by local loggers. Shortly after confessing to the crime, Hadwin disappeared under suspicious circumstances and is missing to this day. As John Vaillant deftly braids together the strands of this thrilling mystery, he brings to life the ancient beauty of the coastal wilderness, the historical collision of Europeans and the Haida, and the harrowing world of logging—the most dangerous land-based job in North America.

Story Locale: Pacific Northwest

    A MODERN (EVERGREEN) CLASSIC: John Vaillant’s debut ushered in a new generation of environmentally minded non-fiction authors and books, and remains one of the most beloved and bestselling non-fiction titles on the Knopf/Vintage Canada list.

    NEW MATERIAL: Along with a brand new cover and package, this reissue edition features a new Afterword by the author.

    ENVIRONMENTAL TRUE CRIME: Like the best longform investigative writing from David Grann and Michael Finkel, The Golden Spruce crackles with suspense and cinematic pacing, attention to character, and an extraordinary, panoramic scope all its own. Perfect for readers of Robert Macfarlane, Adam Shoalts, Kate Harris, Richard Powers, and Elizabeth Kolbert.

    IN TIME FOR JOHN’S INCENDIARY NEW BOOK: John’s new opus on the clash between mankind and nature and the dawning age of environmental disasters, Fire Weather, will publish a few months after this revamped paperback edition of the book that started it all. 

JOHN VAILLANT’s acclaimed, award-winning non-fiction books, The Golden Spruce and The Tiger, were #1 national bestsellers. His debut novel, The Jaguar’s Children, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award. He has written for, among others, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and The Walrus. He lives in Vancouver.

Author Residence: Vancouver, BC

Author Hometown: Boston, MA

Author Social Media: @JohnVaillant (Twitter)

“In rich, painterly prose, [Vaillant] evokes the lush natural world where the golden spruce took root and thrived, the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest. . . . Vaillant is absolutely spellbinding when conjuring up the world of the golden spruce. His descriptions of the Queen Charlotte Islands, with their misty, murky light and hushed, cathedral-like forests, are haunting, and he does full justice to the noble, towering trees. . . . The chapters on logging, painstakingly researched, make high drama out of the grueling, highly dangerous job of bringing down some of the biggest trees on earth.” —The New York Times

“A page-turner as dramatic as a novel. . . . The story is as majestic as the golden spruce, and we are fortunate to have a writer of Vaillant’ s exceptional skill to tell the tale.” —Vancouver Sun

“A beautifully rendered account of cultural clash and environmental obsession.” Maclean’s

“In a scrupulously researched narrative worthy of comparison to Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Vaillant uses a tragic episode to tell a larger story of the heartbreakingly complex relationship between man and nature.” Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)

“Vaillant writes eloquently of West Coast rainforests, quirky characters drawn to a dangerous but lucrative life in logging and Hadwin, who disappears into the BC archipelago, presumed dead. We also learn a great deal about forest ecology and the crime of clear-cutting.” Canadian Geographic

“Balanced and gracefully written. . . .Vaillant explores the subtleties of [Hadwin’ s] inner conflicts. . . . Vaillant’s multi-layered book is a rich investigation of all the factors that went into Hadwin’s act of arboreal vandalism.” Edmonton Journal

“[A] sense of the rank, dark underbelly of the [Queen Charlotte] islands permeates the book, whose engrossing narrative passes through the often lethal life of the logger, to the bloody battles of the Haida and the ravaging of the forest itself by a detached corporate entity unconcerned with the past or future.” Times Colonist (Victoria)

“Compelling. . . . Handily marries reportage with keen historical insight. . . . [Like] Jon Krakauer and Sebastian Junger, Vaillant deftly peels away the surface story to explore the psychology below. . . . An intense mystery and a sweeping history, The Golden Spruce makes for a terrific read.” National Post

“Fascinating. . . . Both a gripping wilderness thriller and a sharply focused summary of forest politics, Queen Charlotte Islands history, and Pacific Northwest biology. Essential reading.” —The Georgia Straight

“[A] powerful and vexing man-versus-nature tale set in an extraordinary place . . . This tragic tale goes right to the heart of the conflicts among loggers, native rights activists and environmentalists, and induces us to more deeply consider the consequences of our habits of destruction.” Booklist (starred review)

“Writing in a vigorous, evocative style, Vaillant portrays the Pacific Northwest as a region of conflict and violence, from the battles between Europeans and Indians over the 18th-century sea otter trade to the hard-bitten, macho milieu of the logging camps, where grisly death is an occupational hazard. It is also, in his telling, a land of virtually infinite natural resources overmatched by an even greater human rapaciousness. . . . Vaillant paints a haunting portrait of man's vexed relationship with nature.” —Publishers Weekly

“John Vaillant has written a work that will change how many people think about nature. His story is about one man and one tree, but it is much more than that. Logging is a brutally dangerous profession that owns the dubious distinction of having killed and maimed even more men than commercial fishing. Loggers’ work is both heroic and sad, and only a writer of Vaillant’s skill could capture both aspects of their dying world in such a powerful way.” —Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm

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